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Can The Caspian Still Become A Hydrocarbon Hub?

The contract of the century will most likely last just about a quarter of a century as Russia’s appetite for Caspian crude and gas has been put on the backburner amid US sanctions and the failure of Iran’s forgotten giant, Sardar Jangal, once touted to contain 10 billion barrels of oil, to meet expectations. This is a seemingly hopeless predicament for the Caspian littoral nations that finally agreed on the principles of their border delimitations last year, only to realize that the swift developments in international oil trade and politics might render Caspian volumes largely irrelevant. Evidently, there are some positive developments, too, but they are too few to outweigh the adverse ones.

The Caspian’s most contradictory story has been unfolding in Azerbaijan. It is no secret that Azeri crude output is gradually declining, dropping down from its all-time peak of 1.037mbpd in 2010 to the current level of 0.8mbpd. SOCAR, Azerbaijan’s national oil company, has been readying to embrace a new capacity for some time already, building up the foundations of its transition from a crude player to a predominantly gas-relevant company. These shifts did not go unnoticed with US oil majors ExxonMobil and Chevron, who were involved in Azerbaijan from 1993 and are one of the last members of the old guard who actually signed the “contract of the century”. Both US firms have approached several potential buyers, declaring their interest to sell their…




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